Leith Recollections




Frank Ferri

Newhaven, Edinburgh

Thank you to Frank Ferri, now living in Newhaven, Edinburgh, for sending many memories of Leith.

Here, Frank asked a question.

Frank wrote:

Christening Pieces

"Does anyone remember the tradition of the 'Christening Pieces', carried on up to the 1960s?  I don't know if people still do it.

The tradition was:

'After the Christening of a new-born child, the mother would prepare a 'Piece'. It was usually an apple, orange, cake and few sweets plus a half crown (12.5 pence) placed in a bag.

If the newborn was a girl, this Piece was given to the first male child you saw in the street after the Christening, and a female if other way around.' "

Frank Ferri, Newhaven, Edinburgh:  June 18, 2008





Darlington, England

Thank you to Joan for sending a reply to Frank Ferri's question about Christening Pieces.

Joan wrote:

Christening Pieces

"I made a Christening Piece for my nephew's Christening.  This was in 1984, in Trinity!"

Joan, Darlington, England:  Message in EdinPhoto guest book:  June 18, 2008




Irene Day (née Sharrock)

Wigan, Lancashire, England

Thank you to Irene Day who wrote

Christening Pieces

"I wish to add a comment to what Frank Ferri put about 'Christening Pieces'.

I'm sure our family used to call them 'Showers'.   I remember well going to family Christenings in Edinburgh as children.  The christening party would be walking along the road to the church and us kids were watching for the first boy or girl to appear who would be getting the 'Christening Piece' as Frank calls it.

Although I live in Wigan Lancs, my father made a bag of goodies up for the 'Christening Piece' and that was 1970.  My husband had never seen it before and the little boy who got the bag of goodies wondered what was being given to him.  He, no doubt, thought it was his lucky day as this was not done down here in England.

That story brought back happy memories for me."

Irene Day, Wigan, Lancashire, England:  March 15, 2008




Tony Ivanov

Bo'ness, West Lothian, Scotland

Thank you to Tony Ivanov who wrote

Christening Pieces

"I remember this tradition well. I think it was a general Scottish tradition which seems to be now a thing of the past. I certainly can't recall this happening in the last couple of decades although I'm sure there will be some families who still do it."

'Pour Oots'

"Another tradition that seems to have faded away is the 'pour out' at weddings. This is where the wedding party threw out a handful of coins from the cars as they were leaving the church or kirk.

It used to be quite an event when I was a child.  When the word got around of a wedding there was usually a crowd of children waiting for the bride and groom after the ceremony, not to see the happy couple, but to get stuck in at the scramble after the money was thrown out.

It could be quite a profitable Saturday morning depending on how generous the wedding party was."

NOTE:  Others have also mentioned 'Poor Oots' in their recollections of Lochend and Dumbiedykes in Edinburgh

Peter Stubbs:  June 21, 2008

Tony added


"A tradition, by its definition, is a custom or belief that is passed on through the generations.  Eventually, somewhere along the line traditions die out for various reasons.

I think as one gets older, such as myself, in my sixties, we feel a sense of sadness that some traditions, however trivial, are forgotten about.

Tony Ivanov, Bo'ness, West Lothian, Scotland:  June 19, 2008

'Pour Oots'

Others have also mentioned 'Poor Oots' in their recollections of Lochend and Dumbiedykes in Edinburgh




Julie Peel

South Shields, South Tyneside, England

Thank you to Julie Peel who wrote:

Christening Pieces

"I've just read the question about Christening Pieces.  I was also brought up with the tradition of handing a 'Christening Bag' to the first opposite sex child seen in the street.  However, in South Shields (South Tyneside) the tradition was that the bag was given on the way to church.

I work with older people experiencing dementia, and we are researching a project about traditions, whether they continue, are dying out, or have seemingly gone forever."

Julie Peel, South Shields, South Tyneside, England:  August 2, 2009




Jimmy Meikle

Leith. Edinburgh

Thank you to Jimmy Meikle who wrote:

Christening Pieces

"On the subject of Christening Pieces, I remember the piece was given to the first child you met on the way to the church always the opposite sex of the child being christened."


"I remember the many poor-oots, particularly at the Smith Tearoom Halls on a Saturday afternoon were many wedding receptions were held."

Jimmy Meikle, Leith, Edinburgh:  August 26, 2009




Sherry Gormley

East Midlands, England
formerly Blyth, Northumberland, England

Thank you to Sherry Gormley who wrote:

Christening Pieces

"I read with interest, on the comments about christening traditions.  In my hometown the tradition was similar, handing a gift bag (called amyss? amiss?) to a child of the opposite sex on the way to the church.

The bag contained :

a coin to add riches to their life

a candle to light their way through life

salt to add spice in their life

a sweet or piece of cake to add sweetness to their life.

Christening Pieces

Similarly on her wedding day, the bride would throw out coins to waiting children on her way to church. 

I continued these customs for my own children up to 1986. Hopefully they will also carry these on"

Sherry Gormley:  East Midlands (formerly Blyth, Northumberland), England:  Sep 23, 2009



Christine Muir

Orkney, Scotland

Thank you to Christine Muir who wrote:

Christening Pieces

"I remember my brother's christening in South Leith Parish Church in 1945. My mother made a piece up of bread and cheese, and it was given to the first woman we met.


There was also the hansel, a silver coin, which was always placed under the pillow of a new baby, for luck both to the baby and the giver.

Christine Muir, Orkney, Scotland:  message posted in EdinPhoto guest book, October 11, 2009


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